Houston Rockets: Clint Capela is not your average big man

Clint Capela is not only a great lob catcher and defender, but he even helps the Houston Rockets space the floor on offense.

At first glance, Clint Capela seems like every other big man in the league. He blocks shots, rebounds, and finishes around the rim well. But because of how he is used in the Rockets’ system and his unique combination of speed, athleticism, and size, Capela much more than your typical 7 foot shot blocker. He’s a guy who opens up the offense and makes life easier for his teammates.

Pick and roll with James Harden

Clint Capela’s presence is perhaps most essential to James Harden and how he runs the offense. James Harden and Clint Capela have become potentially the most effective pick and roll duo in the league today because of their chemistry and timing.

Harden utilizes the pick and roll with Capela to switch onto bigger defenders for two reasons: to take his defender out of the play by having them play from behind essentially making it two on one against the opposing team’s big man. The other reason is to suck the defense in to free up open looks from deep.

When Harden runs the pick and roll correctly and takes his man out of the play, he then has two options based on what Clint Capela’s defender does, if his defender sticks to him, Harden has a clean lane to the rim. But if Capela’s defender comes over to help, Harden then lobs it up to Capela for the easy finish.

This is a simple concept but a nearly unstoppable one as well when it is run correctly. And when it is being run by Harden and Capela, it usually is.

Capela Actually Spaces the Floor for his Teammates

When you think of Clint Capela, you wouldn’t categorize him as a floor spacer. But because of how the Rockets are built, with everyone from guards to power forwards specializing in shooting 3’s, Capela actually spaces the floor with his dominant inside game for the shooters around him.

One would think Ryan Anderson would space the floor better than Capela due to his ability to shoot 3s, but when all 5 players are hanging out beyond the arc, the Rockets offense becomes much less dynamic and easier to stop. In order for the shooters to have more space to operate, there needs to be a constant threat inside that can make teams pay if they focus too much on guarding the 3 point line.


As mentioned before, when Clint Capela’s defender leaves him to help stop James Harden’s drive it sets Capela up for an easy alley-oop. When that happens, the only way to cover Capela is to have an extra defender come over and try to stop him from rolling to the rim. This frees up his teammates and sets them up with wide open looks for 3.

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Clint Capela earned a 5 year $90 million contract this offseason, which may be considered a heavy price for your average 7 foot rim runner. But when you consider everything Capela does to open things up for everyone around him on offense (he’s also not too bad on defense), Capela is anything but your average big man.